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I often wonder, why I didn’t leave my marriage, despite the very glaring reasons, I should have.  And it hit me the other day.

I didn’t know I could leave.

When I was a young girl, I ran away at least three times and each time, I was returned to my mother. Each time, I was told I had to go back. I learned how to be helpless. I learned how to be hopeless. I learned how to fear leaving and tolerate staying.

I remember sitting on the bathroom floor, when I was twelve, and taking a bunch of pills, because I really did not see physically leaving as a option. I had walked miles the first time I ran away, to my church and I was told to call my father. He told me I had to go back. I had hid in someone’s home and eventually my mother came walking through the door and took me back home. After the second time, my bedroom was taken away and I slept on the floor in the livingroom for five years.  Why would I think I had the right to leave, the right to anything better? 

Later I ran away again, and I was picked up by father and stepmother and brought back home again.

I did not experience ever having my own power, my own say, choices, rights, ownership of my own self and body.

I was conditioned early on to stay in a toxic situation and make it work for me, by keeping quiet, keeping secrets and ultimately just dealing with it by checking out/numbing myself to the reality.  And that is what I did in my marriage. I kept quiet, I kept secrets and I just dealt with it by checking out/numbing myself to the reality of the complete dysfunction in my marriage.

I have deep regrets about staying in my marriage as long as I did, regrets I will probably have for the rest of my life because I don’t feel I have the right to make peace with it. I am realizing that on some level, I do not feel I have the right to NOT have regret. There is a part of me that believes I should pay for not leaving for a very long time. And believing that is actually quite scary to me as I firmly believe I will create a life of punishment by continuing to believe this as truth.

I know that I can access my highest self through my truth.That I can change my distorted beliefs as I have done so many times in the past.  I know that I am capable of handling what is here right now, even if it is painful and ugly. I know I am capable of changing what I think and moving into a more powerful perspective. But it is not easy. 

“I don’t know if I can leave” is deep rooted, and in my cells. It is an automatic response to life, it is what I know and it manifests in simple things. It translates to ” I don’t know I can change things, I don’t know that I have power, that I have choice. I don’t know that I can be loved” It is deep and heart wrenching and true to my lower self, my wounded self which quite frankly is in charge most of the time. I have the pleasure of being fully in my highest self at times, more often than years before, but on some days, some hours…I am ego, I am lower self, I am wounded, I am scared. And I feel powerless. 

I am grateful for my self awareness, for my ability to make meaning out of even the most horrific, for this is a gift that has saved my life. Without it, I would be acting out my pain, in self destructive ways, living numbed out most of the time and barely surviving.

Today, I am exploring how this learned helplessness continues to manifest in my life in other ways. How often do I feel trapped and helpless around a situation in my life and feel that I cannot exit it. How often do I not see a way out, because I was trained that there is no way out.  I watch this in myself…watching compassionately.

Today, I must be the parent I never had and tell my lovely self what I would have wanted to hear all those years ago:

You are loved, you are powerful, you are safe and you can create what you want in your life. You don’t have to stay here if you don’t want to…you just have to figure where you want to go and go. You are free.

I compassionately wait, to fully embrace this truth.